How To Improve Your Rap Wordplay

How To Improve Your Rap Wordplay

In today’s article, we’re going to teach you learn how to improve your rap wordplay, step-by-step. 

We’ll be using examples from some of the greatest rappers of all-time from multiple eras, from 21st century icons like J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar going back to legends like Eminem

Even better, we’ll actually have you CREATING wordplay structures and punchlines right here live in this video, so pull out your notes app and get ready to rap.

As YouTube’s most subscribed channel on the structure and science of how to rap, we’re confident that the rap tips discussed in this video will help guide you on how to be a better rapper, or or if you’re just a fan of the culture. 

So without further ado, let’s show you how to improve your rap wordplay in 3 simple steps.

Our “How To Improve Your Rap Wordplay” YouTube Training!

NOTE: Before we begin, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel “How To Rap” because we will be releasing more how to improve your wordplay based videos in the rest of 2021 and 2022, building on the step-by-step lessons you learn here today… 

…And one of the fastest ways to improve your rap wordplay without too much extra stress is to master the art of freestyle rapping, which can be down in an easy to follow, step-by-step method by checking out our “Freestyle Fortnight: Master The Art of Freestyle Rap In 2 Weeks or Less” program by clicking HERE

Secret #1: Exaggeration

Now, perhaps the easiest way to “spice up” your bars when learning how to improve your rap wordplay is to insert more “exaggeration” within your raps. 

Exaggeration in this case would mean adding more of a ‘larger-than-life’ personality in bars when describing your life and lifestyle within your tracks.

The reason this is important is most new rappers have boring lyrics because they just say directly what they are thinking with no kind of creative flair, no wit, and no lyrical dexterity.

In this step, we’ll have you creating bars thin air using lyrical wordplay structures from Eminem and Kendrick Lamar

Now two key methods to improve your abilities for exaggeration with your lyrics would be: 

  1. Lyrical Visuals
  2. Massive Metaphors  

We’ll cover “massive metaphors” using Kendrick Lamar in a moment, but let’s first look at what lyrical visuals mean and how we can use the work of none other than Slim Shady himself to help you in this process.

How Eminem Uses Rap Wordplay

In my eyes, one of the things that makes rappers like Eminem on most people’s top 5 is how “visual” his raps are. 

He essentially innovated a rap style that not only pulls the listener into stories such as “Stan”, “Brain Damage”, and “Lose Yourself”, but also creates an entire “universe” for listeners to inhabit. 

Let’s look at these bars from his song “Marshall Mathers” on 2000’s The Marshall Mathers LP

You might see me jogging, you might see me walking,

You might see me walking a dead Rottweiler dog

With its head chopped in the park with spiked collar 

Hollering at him ‘cause the son of a chick won’t quit barking 

Eminem, “Marshall Mathers”

So, what Eminem is doing here is “exaggerating” his personality with a hypervisual, almost science fiction level description of his lifestyle for effect. Eminem is not literally walking headless dogs around his neighborhood. 

What Eminem IS doing, however, is describing for you just how nonconformist, antisocial, and in fact sadistic his mindset is at times, by using a LYRICAL VISUAL using the concept EXAGGERATION. 

In your case, the best way to start spicing up your raps would be to start using similar lyrical visuals to describe your mindstate. 

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How To Improve Your Lyrical Visuals

So, for you to accomplish this, let’s have you pull out that notes app we mentioned in the beginning.

I want you to write down the numbers 1-3, and we’ll have you create the exaggeration structure step-by-step. 

#1 What Do You Want To Say About Yourself?

Step 1 is describe what you want people to think of you after you use exaggeration in this bar or verse. 

In Eminem’s case, he wants you to think he is an antisocial scary mofo. In your case, you might want people to think you’re a good rapper, or that you are about to blow up, or whatever. 

So let’s say for the purposes of this example you decide you want people to believe you have a global fanbase. So you write down: #1 I Have Tons of Fans Around The World 

(Write Step 1)

#2 What’s The Superhero / Supervillain Version of Step 1? 

Step 2 is insert exaggeration using a simple “Marvel movie” style structure. What would be the superhero / supervillain of step 1? 

Again, in Eminem’s case, a supervillain in a science fiction movie DEFINITELY would be walking around with a headless dog. 

In your case, perhaps having tons of fans around the world would be “the last time you were in China your concert line filled the whole great wall” or “fans sneak up the Eiffel Tower to catch a glimpse of my festivals”, etc. 

For the purposes of this video, we’re going to have you to do this quickly, but the purpose here is for you to know the STRUCTURE, and then you can do it over and over and trust me it will get faster. 

(Write Step 2)

#3 Make It Rhyme

Now, of course the last step is to take your newly exaggerated description and make it rhyme. We don’t need to cover how Eminem does this because you can read / hear it, but if you’re wondering how to improve your rhyming abilities, be sure to check THIS video for our step-by-step training on that. 

Just be sure that your “set-up” to the rhyming exaggeration is relevant. So, if you decided your bar would be “The last time you were in China, your concert line filled The Great Wall”, you might come up with a bar like: 

“From what I sold – to where I go, shoot I always take off

Last time I was in China, my concert line filled The Great Wall”, etc.

(Write Step 3)

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How Kendrick Lamar Uses Wordplay

Now, you can also accomplish this form of superhero exaggeration by using the concept of metaphor, specifically what we call “massive metaphors” much like Kendrick Lamar does on “Control”: 

I’m in a destruction mode if the gold exists 

I’m important like The Pope, I’m a Muslim on pork

I’m Makaveli’s offspring, I’m the King of New York

King of the Coast; one hand, I juggle ‘em both

Kendrick Lamar, “Control”

Now, in this case, what we’re seeing rather going straight “visual” with it like Eminem did, Kendrick is using the power of metaphor PLUS exaggeration PLUS comparing and contrasting (which we’ll cover in a second) to get a superhero effect. 

By putting himself in like with The Pope, 2Pac, The Kings of New York such as Biggie, Jay-Z, etc. and even the entire billion plus people of the faith of Islam, he is using a sweeping massive usage of metaphor to make him larger than life. 

This imaging in fact reminds me of the Apple campaigns of the early 2000’s where they would have Gandhi, John Lennon, and other titans of human history compared with a new Apple product.

In fact, Kendrick did a very similar framing on his recent “Family Ties” feature with Baby Keem, using everything from religious iconography to the invocation of “offspring”: 

I’m not a trending topic, I’m a prophet 

I answer Metatron and Gabriel 

Homey, looking for a better me

I am a legacy, I come from the seventy 

The Al Green offspring, guns and the melody 

Kendrick Lamar, “Family Ties”

How To Improve Your Massive Metaphors

Now, to do this yourself, I would suggest similar structure to lyrical visuals, but with more of a focus on “I Am…” statements. 

Let’s go through this again: 

#1 What Do You Want To Say About Yourself? 

In this case, Kendrick is saying that he is the lineage of the most important LEADERS of any field, and then adding an “I AM” or an “I’m” statement to it. 

So, again, take a couple seconds to write down what you’d like to say about yourself. 

(Write Step 1)

To keep this easy to follow, we’ll do another bar using “I have tons of fans around the world”. 

#2 Who Is The Most Iconic Human Example of This? 

To use the Kendrick Method, we’ll look at how he thinks of Makaveli a.k.a. 2Pac as the most iconic example of West Coast Rap, The Pope as important to humankind, and so on. 

For our example, we might think Michael Jackson in his prime, The Beatles in 1964, or even better: those Indian pilgrimages where literally 10 millions of people of show up every year.

Write down what the most iconic human examples of what you want to say about yourself are. 

(Write Step 2)

#3 Add an “I Am” or “Mine is…” statement at the front. 

Next step is to make it into a metaphor by adding the I Am or Mine Is statement in front. 

So in our case, that would be something like “I am the guru hosting the Kumbh Mela” if we are using the Indian Pilgrimage example, or “My concerts are like John and Paul in Shea Stadium in ’64”, etc. 

Kendrick of course adds the “I’m important like The Pope”, “I’m Makaveli’s offspring” framing. 

Take a second and add your I Am and Mine is statements… 

(Write Step 3)

#4 Make It Rhyme 

Again, your final step is of course make it rhyme in the scheme. So, we might do something like… 

“So many ladies loving my young flavor

Concerts in ten millions – I’m the guru hosting the Kumbh Mela” or

“Y’all rappers can’t play the Palladium… 

I’m John and Paul at Shea Stadium every state we in” etc. 

Example Rhyme
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If you have any trouble finding topics for your metaphors or rhymes, check out our free video course on How To Write A Rap About Any Topic In 20 Mins. Or Less by clicking HERE

Secret #2 Compare and Contrast

Another subtle wordplay tactic that Kendrick Lamar uses within the “Control” example is “comparing and contrasting”.

Now, “compare and contrast” always came off to me as one of those annoying phrases that you hear in grade school about fill up a paper to hand into class or something the teacher wanted you to notice the author did. BORING!

However, the truth of the matter is there’s a reason why they teach you this stuff in school: IT’S A TACTIC THAT REAL AUTHORS DO. 

You know REAL authors… as in writers… authors like… RAPPERS?!

Yes, indeed: rappers are writers, rappers are authors, and so whether they know it or not, they are often using the very strategies that teachers tell us about when writing books. 

For you to improve your rap wordplay, don’t be afraid to go ahead and lift some of those ideas. 

A really good example of this is the “I’ve been doing this since…” framing. 

Let’s look at how J. Cole starts his recent album The Off-Season:

This stuff too easy for me now 

Brother, Cole be going plat’ since back when CDs was around

What you sold, I tripled that, I can’t believe these little clowns 

Look how everybody clapping when your thirty-song album do a measly hundred thou’ 

J. Cole, “95 South”

Now, in your case you may not have been “releasing successful music” as long as J. Cole, but understand the principle of:

“I have been successfully accomplishing my goals since you were not” framing in your raps. 

Let’s have you start doing this yourself:

How To Improve Your Ability to Compare and Contrast

#1 What’s Something That You Do Better Than Your Opponents?

Think of something, anything in life that you are more experienced than your opponents in. 

In can even be something that may not seem brag worthy like playing video games. 

Let’s say you’ve been playing video games for so long that you’ve actually made money on multiplayer competitions or whatever, even if it’s just a few bucks. 

We might write something like “I’ve made bread from gaming”, something simple to start, etc.

Write that down, or your own version. 

(Write Step 1)

#2 What Were Your Opponents Doing When You Were Succeeding? 

Now, think of what your opponents were likely doing when you were succeeding in step 1, and then word “since” to the end of it of step 1. Don’t overthink it or think you have to be 100% literal.

So, for example, your opponent might have been forced to be in the school band while you were making money playing games on line or something to this effect. 

“I’ve made bread from gaming since you were playing tuba, homey” 

Write your version of that down. 

(Write Step 2)

#3 Make It Rhyme

So, in this case, we might make up a nice tight scheme like, “I’ve made bread from gaming since you were playing the tuba, homey / So it’s likely rather than trying to fight me, you should know me”, etc. 

Take a second to pull it all together and make it rhyme. 

(Write Step 3)

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Conclusion: How To Improve Your Rap Wordplay 

Now, again this will not be the only article we do on this topic so stay tuned and be sure to check out our courses HERE and HERE, but remember you can use these steps over and over and even spice up OLD lyrics using this method. Let’s review: 

Exaggeration

Use your powers of exaggeration to create a “larger than life persona”. 

Lyrical Visuals

Use the Eminem framework to make your rap wordplay more visual…

Massive Metaphors 

Use the Kendrick framework to create more iconic imagery when learning how to improve your rap wordplay…

Compare And Contrast 

…And be sure to compare and contrast like J. Cole to help you along the way. 



COMMENT: Write a couple bars in the comments for us using the lessons you learned here today!

Drew Morisey, Instagram and Twitter

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